Ever been disappointed by the taste of instant mashed potatoes? You might think from the fact that instant potatoes have become so common that making mashed potatoes from scratch must be difficult or time-consuming, but it’s not so! The purveyors of dehydrated potato flakes certainly want you to think mashed potatoes from scratch are a complex art beyond your ability or patience, but once you’ve tried this simple approach, you’ll never be persuaded by that silliness again.
Mashed potatoes are one of the easiest, most delicious ways to serve potatoes, and I’ve yet to have a picky eater turn their nose up at a plate of these. So when I don’t know what to serve with a plate of pork chops or roast chicken, I whip up a batch. They take less than 30 minutes, from start to finish. Join me in taking this traditional dish back from the industry of “instant,” and savor the creamy, wholesome deliciousness that is freshly mashed potatoes!
30-Minute Mashed Potatoes
You can mash any potatoes, but two of my favorite varieties for this purpose are Yukon Gold and Russet. You’ll need one medium-sized potato per person (though leftovers never hurt anyone).
I peel. If you like some skins in your mashed potatoes, I still recommend partially peeling the potatoes (you’ll only use the skin that remains on the potato) and peeling in a stripe pattern. The potato masher doesn’t do a very good job of tearing up the skins, so if you leave all the skin on, you’re likely to get big chunks of it in your finished product.
Cut the potatoes into 1-inch chunks. (Precision is not important here.) Put in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until you can easily poke a fork through the biggest chunks. (When I’m making only three servings at a time, the potatoes are usually done after about 10 minutes of simmering. Larger amounts will take a bit longer.)
Drain the potatoes. If you have a large amount, you’ll probably need to do this in a colander. With a smaller amount, you can just use the lid of the saucepan to hold the potatoes inside while you dump out the water. I’m all for doing things the way that dirties the fewest dishes!
Put the potatoes back in the saucepan if you took them out. Add about 1 tablespoon of butter for each serving of potatoes and 2 tablespoons of milk (or cream) per serving. Begin mashing the potato chunks right there in the pan, using a hand masher like the one in the picture. This takes less than 30 seconds. As you mash, you can add more milk to get the level of creaminess you desire. Add salt and pepper to taste.
That’s it. Really.
8 Comments Add yours
Wow – here in the UK instant mashed potatoes are really uncommon. I don’t think I know anyone who uses them! Fresh mashed potatoes are a joy and you can flavour them with so many things – horseradish sauce is my sweetie’s favourite, but I like a bit of added pesto.
I’m happy to hear that instant mashed potatoes have not yet conquered the world! Horseradish sauce is something I’m going to have to try. I bet my husband would like that quite a bit.
happy to report back from Switzerland that instant mash is also not wide-spread…..had wonderful mashed potatoes in a restaurant served with salmon and made with some lemon juice in the mash, for a winter option to go with meat you will often find restaurants offering mash made with 1/2 mashed celeriac and 1/2 potatoes, tastes great too. Congratulations to you for showing that making things from scratch doesn’t take much longer than “instant” packaged food, there are few things more gratifying than knowing what went into the food you put on the table.
Haha! I love that I’m getting an informal survey on the international reach of instant mashed potatoes! So far I am very pleased with the results. 🙂 I’ve never had mashed celeriac but did once have some phenomenal mashed rutabagas. So many things to mash, so little time!
Glad to see posts like this. Unfortunately here in the midwest US, instant mashed potatoes seem standard. I like mine with mashed parsnips and some garlic!
Oh yes, garlic makes an excellent addition. And is quite quick to add if you have a garlic press, or are handy at mincing.
You know, I’ve never had a parsnip, mashed or otherwise. Add that to the seed order list for January!
Parsnips are a great addition to a root garden! They sort of have add a subtle floral flavor. Easy to grow too!
I love fresh mashed potatoes. We usually throw in one sweet potato for every three regular potatoes of equal sizes. Makes it a bit sweeter and the color once mashed is lovely. I have come to really dislike instant potatoes.